Right meets Left in Food Self-Reliance


February 5, 2010 by Jason Brown

Today I was browsing through Glenn Beck’s website which I occasionally do, just to keep an eye on Brother Beck. As you may or may not know, Glenn always has prominent ads on his site, usually for his Gold and Silver people. But the top ad today was a link to this website: www.survivalseedbank.com which begins with the tagline: “More valuable than silver or gold in a real meltdown…” This ad prompted me to articulate the beginnings of an idea that has been brewing in my mind for a long time.

Although the Survival Seed site is filled with doomsday predictions of global collapse, tirades about police states and chock full of good old-fashioned Conservative fear mongering, I agree with the underlying message: we must become more self-reliant over our food supply. The exploding food movement, popular among liberals and back-to-the-land agrarians (like myself), touts the benefits of local food in abstract terms: lower greenhouse gases, fewer food miles, building community, etc. While I agree with these crucial benefits of local food; an emphasis on self-reliance is simple and broadly applicable to the conservative Mormon context. If we are to be successful “Mormon Workers” it is important that we are able to speak not only in the dialects of the broad Left, but also understand the wisdom of conservative ideas. Today’s, liberal new left emphasis on local food, food storage, food preservation, and rural livelihood skills, are bread and butter of our grandparents generation.

Survival Seeds goes on to say, “you don’t have to be an Old Testament prophet to see what’s going on all around us. A belligerent lower class demanding handouts. A rapidly diminishing middle class crippled by police state bureaucracy. An aloof, ruling elite that has introduced us to an emerging totalitarianism which seeks control over every aspect of our lives.” The rhetoric is clearly discernable. However, instead of turning this into a polemic, we could attempt to answer this type of rhetoric with what I would call Left-libertarian Right-Communitarian synthesis. To the above statement, we could easily suggest that corporate hand-outs far exceed the welfare programs which go to structurally disadvantaged populations, while agreeing that welfare can create a culture of dependency that the state is not very good at changing…. I could go on. The point is, as Mormon activists generally assuming to be on the left, we must figure out a way of harnessing the resistance to the state in both left and right worldviews in favor of communitarian solutions that foster responsible individuals and interdependent, self-reliant communities. And while I’m not ready to invite Brother Beck to the commune, I wouldn’t mind trading him my extra Red-Tomatoes for some of his Freedom Favas.


10 thoughts on “Right meets Left in Food Self-Reliance

  1. Tariq says:

    Good article. I think you probably know much more about this topic than I do, but a good book to read that really illustrates the dangers of letting a few corporations control the food supply is Vandana Shiva’s “Stolen Harvest”. She has written alot about how small-scale, local, independent agriculture is essential to a free society, and how authoritarians take away automony and agency, and seek to control populations by taking away small-scale, independent agriculture and replace it with massive, corporate, monoculture. If you control a man’s food supply, then you can easily control that man.

  2. J. Madson says:

    every time this subject comes up I am reminded of Wendell Berry. He has been fighting this fight and speaking wisdom for many many years.

    a great article by him is on the need for a local economy


    with a line like

    “A corporation, essentially, is a pile of money to which a number of persons have sold their moral allegiance.”

    you have to love it.

  3. Joseph says:

    Wendell Berry’s book “The Unsettling of America” is definitely one of those that changed my life. Still not living up to it, though.

  4. fishstilldie says:

    Agree with everyone. A huge part of the Mormon Worker is renewing our food and work traditions. I also think is an area where we can make considerable ground in Mormon culture. A tool for dialogue and getting people of different political ideas together working on projects.

  5. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    So stop reading and start farming. You’ll never “get” the gun thing i’m sure.

  6. Tariq says:

    It is possible to both read and grow food. Joseph Smith often emphasized the importance of doing both. It’s just as important to nourish the mind as it is to nourish the body. “Stop reading” is not good advice.

  7. J. Madson says:


    Most of your comments seem a bit trollish. I have no problem with discussion and debate but Im not sure your really interested in either.

    Im just curious what you are after. are you trying to piss people off? or do you actually want some dialogue?

  8. Joseph says:


    I do more than just read. I actually make very good use of the property I have in gardening, and having run into severe financial difficulties recently, the carrots I planted last summer that are still doing well in the ground came to be very helpful as an inexpensive source of vegetables. In admitting that I wasn’t living up to what Wendell Berry sets forth in his writings, I wasn’t saying I had done nothing. And there seem to be a number on this blog who have gone even further and are working on small-scale agricultural projects.

    And your comment about a “gun” thing isn’t referencing anything in the current discussion, so there isn’t really anything to “get.”

    I think everyone here wants to be friendly and consider different viewpoints, but your approach seems to bring out the worst in everyone. Being obnoxious is a fun way to feel superior to everyone, as we all know, but large doses of it just get annoying. Check out Frightened Rabbit’s song “Be Less Rude” (http://www.daytrotter.com/dt/frightened-rabbit-concert/20030309-3737635.html) and I think that sums up how many people feel about being approached rudely about everything.

  9. James says:

    If you can’t grow food on your own, consider investing in local organic farmers (through community sustained agriculture) who let you pick up fresh vegetables and fruit directly from a farm close to home. It’s a great way to keep your money local and enjoy healthy, organic food. There are CSAs almost everywhere. http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

  10. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    The “gun thing” was in reference to self reliance.

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